Looking over the top fantasy defenses from 2023, there was one surprising team that finished in the top 10. The Las Vegas Raiders, who'd been a bottom-5 group in each of the previous six years, finished 8th. Is it sustainable?

(This, incidentally, is in a scoring system that awards 1 point for sacks, 2 points for takeaways and 6 for all touchdowns.)

Sacks were one factor in their success. Led by Maxx Crosby (pictured), Las Vegas had 46, ranking 13th -- they hadn't ranked higher than 20th in any of the previous seven seasons. But an even bigger one was in terms of scoring touchdowns. Las Vegas had 5 defensive and special teams scores last year, trailing only Dallas (7) in that regard. What are the chances they'll come back with a similar type of number in 2024?

Defenses average about 2.5 touchdowns per year (this includes kick return scores). It's a number that's been trending downward; it used to be around 3 per season, but the last few years it's inched closer to 2. So if you can land a fantasy defense that scores 4-5 touchdowns in a season, you're getting up to a point per week advantage over the average group.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of year-to-year consistency in this area. A team scoring that many touchdowns in one season seldom results in them doing it a year later. With just a couple of exceptions, defenses scoring 4-5 touchdowns rarely came back to do it again.

In the last five seasons, there have been only five defenses that have followed up a year with 4 TDs scored by reaching that total again a year later. Four of those teams did it three years in a row, and if there's a consistent theme to latch onto, it's that they were very good defenses -- Patriots, Ravens, Rams, Jets -- or attached to winning organizations (Kansas City). The Raiders don't really fit either profile, so they don't seem particularly likely to bounce back with 4-plus touchdowns in 2024.

All of those teams with streaks of either two or three years in a row did it between 2018 and 2021. The past two seasons (2021 and 2022), none of the defenses to score 4-plus touchdowns came back and did it again a year later. With that in mind, little reason to think the six defenses to score that many a year ago are especially likely to come back and do it next year. A lot of chance involved in these scores.

Table shows defensive touchdowns from 2018 through 2023, sorted by totals over that six-year period. Defenses to score 4-plus at least two years in a row are in bold; teams who reached that total last year are in italics. All of last year's achievers in this area (Dallas, Miami, Indianapolis, Las Vegas and the Jets and Giants) ranked in the top 10 at the position in the above-indicated scoring system; it's a nice boost. Jets were the only team to check both boxes.

New England47438228
Kansas City54442221
NY Jets56121419
NY Giants33212415
LA Rams54411015
San Francisco25123114
Las Vegas22003512
New Orleans14121312
Tampa Bay16121112
Green Bay20223211
LA Chargers31221110

--Andy Richardson